XXVI

HROTHGAR MORALIZES—REST AFTER LABOR

          "Then bruised in his bosom he with bitter-toothed missile
          Is hurt 'neath his helmet: from harmful pollution
          He is powerless to shield him by the wonderful mandates
          Of the loath-cursèd spirit; what too long he hath holden
5       Him seemeth too small, savage he hoardeth,
          Nor boastfully giveth gold-plated rings,
          The fate of the future flouts and forgetteth
          Since God had erst given him greatness no little,
          Wielder of Glory. His end-day anear,
10      It afterward happens that the bodily-dwelling
          Fleetingly fadeth, falls into ruins;
          Another lays hold who doleth the ornaments,
          The nobleman's jewels, nothing lamenting,
          Heedeth no terror. Oh, Beowulf dear,
15      Best of the heroes, from bale-strife defend thee,
          And choose thee the better, counsels eternal;
          Beware of arrogance, world-famous champion!
          But a little-while lasts thy life-vigor's fulness;
          'Twill after hap early, that illness or sword-edge
20      Shall part thee from strength, or the grasp of the fire,
          Or the wave of the current, or clutch of the edges,
          Or flight of the war-spear, or age with its horrors,
          Or thine eyes' bright flashing shall fade into darkness:
          'Twill happen full early, excellent hero,
25      That death shall subdue thee. So the Danes a half-century
          I held under heaven, helped them in struggles
          'Gainst many a race in middle-earth's regions,
          With ash-wood and edges, that enemies none
          On earth molested me. Lo! offsetting change, now,
30      Came to my manor, grief after joyance,
          When Grendel became my constant visitor,
          Inveterate hater: I from that malice
          Continually travailed with trouble no little.
          Thanks be to God that I gained in my lifetime,
35      To the Lord everlasting, to look on the gory
          Head with mine eyes, after long-lasting sorrow!
          Go to the bench now, battle-adornèd
          Joy in the feasting: of jewels in common
          We'll meet with many when morning appeareth."
40      The Geatman was gladsome, ganged he immediately
          To go to the bench, as the clever one bade him.
          Then again as before were the famous-for-prowess,
          Hall-inhabiters, handsomely banqueted,
          Feasted anew. The night-veil fell then
45      Dark o'er the warriors. The courtiers rose then;
          The gray-haired was anxious to go to his slumbers,
          The hoary old Scylding. Hankered the Geatman,
          The champion doughty, greatly, to rest him:
          An earlman early outward did lead him,
50      Fagged from his faring, from far-country springing,
          Who for etiquette's sake all of a liegeman's
          Needs regarded, such as seamen at that time
          Were bounden to feel. The big-hearted rested;
          The building uptowered, spacious and gilded,
55      The guest within slumbered, till the sable-clad raven
          Blithely foreboded the beacon of heaven.
          Then the bright-shining sun o'er the bottoms came going;
          The warriors hastened, the heads of the peoples
          Were ready to go again to their peoples,
60      The high-mooded farer would faraway thenceward
          Look for his vessel. The valiant one bade then,
          Offspring of Ecglaf, off to bear Hrunting,
          To take his weapon, his well-beloved iron;
          He him thanked for the gift, saying good he accounted
65      The war-friend and mighty, nor chid he with words then
          The blade of the brand: 'twas a brave-mooded hero.
          When the warriors were ready, arrayed in their trappings,
          The atheling dear to the Danemen advanced then
          On to the dais, where the other was sitting,
70      Grim-mooded hero, greeted King Hrothgar.